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So how do you find a school that will give your homeschooler an AP Exam, anyway??
Carole Matheny, 2/2/2010

Carole Matheny is both a homeschooling mother, and the dedicated and energetic teacher for our AP Statistics online class. So she's had experience herself in doing the 'legwork' to find a suitable location for her son to take his Advanced Placement exams each May-- homeschoolers must take these exams at a school setting, and as you'll see, this can take some perseverance! Do know that all homeschoolers taking our AP Online classes have been able to find locations for their exams-- and that we provide info for parents on how to go about this task. This article will give you insight into all that might be involved!  


I picked up the phone and dialed the nearby private college-prep school  where my son took his AP test the previous spring.  Aware that last year’s AP Coordinator had retired, and since I didn’t know  the new AP Coordinator, I started with a general request: “Hello, may I please speak with the AP Coordinator.” It was that time of the year, late-January and time to call the local school to schedule my son’s four AP exams. After a few introductory remarks I was surprised to hear the coordinator state that the school was not planning to administer AP tests to their own students or outsiders.

Next I contacted my local public school and asked for the AP Coordinator. Knowing they offered AP classes in the subjects my son needed for AP tests I felt confident they would at least be giving the tests he needed. After a few pleasant exchanges the AP Coordinator stated: “I’m new here but I know that if I permit a homeschooler to test with our kids, I’ll get my hands slapped.”  Yes, my public school is not friendly to homeschoolers, so the response did not surprise me.  I made a few more phone calls. One coordinator wasn't sure they would have a seat for my son. Another was confident that the various department heads would not like a homeschooler testing with their kids. I assured her that my son had his own homeschooling code and that his scores would not be recorded with her students’ scores. She said she did know that. Others weren't offering all the AP tests he was taking and my son really wanted to go to just one school. I did inquire if they would administer the other tests and even offered to pay a monitoring fee-- however, the schools were not interested. It was now mid-February, but finally I found a private school that was very receptive to having my son join their kids, provided he was willing to meet their dress code---dress pants, white shirt and tie. He wasn’t interested in dressing quite so formally for AP exams, so the search continued. Unfortunately I was at the end of the school list and made one last call to AP Services at the College Board: 609 – 771 – 7300.

The AP Services representative shared the names of schools with AP courses and the AP Coordinator’s name if available. He couldn’t assure me that the school would be administering the AP exam but I had at least a few more schools to contact close to my home. A couple more phone calls and I found a school quite willing to include my son in their AP testing.  The AP Coordinator gave me information regarding when and how I was to pay for the exams and  we scheduled a time, a day before the tests began, for my son to come in to fill out all the paperwork.  It was also nice that he got to see where he would be testing, meet the AP Coordinator and become familiar with the school before the morning of his first test.

The testing went quite smoothly. My son found  the room to be quiet, the moderator to be relaxed, which helped to reduce pre-test jitters, and he also thanked me for not enrolling him in the public school.  After the AP testing was completed we sent the AP Coordinator a thank you note.  She had been well organized and a pleasure to work with.

This past fall at a college fair we ran into the AP Coordinator. She remembered my son and inquired as to what AP courses he was taking. Before we parted she told me to contact her in early February to schedule his AP tests and she agreed to administer the AP tests that her school does not offer. What a gem of a school.

Best wishes to all. A good AP score is a useful thing to have, and it is worth the hassle of trying to arrange the tests.

Comment by Denis Howland, 2/5/2010:

Thank you Carole for the insightful AP Exam information!  I need to locate an exam center for my daughter.  Your post reminds me to begin searching!

Comment by Vickie Bonneville, 2/27/2010:

Persistence and early planning does pay off - especially when special accommodations are needed.  I began this process one year ago - before we registered for our son's AP classes.  Having received notice from our local public high school that they would be willing to administer tests to a homeschooler, we went ahead with his chosen classes.  However, because our son has significant dysgraphia, making writing tedious for him, he was granted special accommodations through the College Board.  I am so glad we applied for those accommodations in the fall, because locating a school willing to administer AP tests to a homeschooler who also needs individualized proctoring was quite a challenge.

Our local high school was now unsure whether they could provide a private proctor, and although they administer a large number of AP tests, they had never dealt with special accommodations before.  After waiting 3 weeks for an answer from our local school, I contacted the College Board for a listing of schools willing to give the exams to outside students.  The College Board does not currently provide any information regarding which schools may administer exams to a student requiring special accommodations.  I set aside several days to work on this task, calling numerous schools with no success.  I also contacted the Director of Curriculum and Instruction in our school district to enlist her help in working with our local high school.  This contact proved to be the key in our case. Finally, by the end of last week, I received a call from our local AP coordinator stating that arrangements had been made to test my son with accommodations! 

If you have a student needing individualized proctoring (such as is needed for use of a computer), be aware that it will potentially take longer to find a testing site, and you will likely need to pay for proctoring costs on top of the cost of the exams themselves.  In fact, when contacting AP coordinators, I always made a point of offering to cover this cost.  Even so, many schools are not familiar with special accommodations and reluctant to commit tothe extra work involved.  Often too, they simply do not have enough proctors to provide for the individualized proctoring that some special accommodations require. 

 If your local school district cannot help, it may be beneficial to contact a private school catering to the gifted population.  These schools are more likely to have experience testing students with accommodations and may be more sympathetic to your student's needs.  I received a positive response from such a school last week, but due to the driving distance we have opted to utilize our local school (both of my son's exams are at 8 am).

Don't give up - it's well worth the effort.  I want to thank Mrs. Richman, PAHomeschoolers AP Director, for her helpful advice and words of encouragement as I went through this process.  My son has been thrilled with his AP classes, and I am very pleased with the parental support too!


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